015. The Art of Quiet

I’ve been trying to write this blog for probably about two years now, but after the events that 2015 had to offer, it was pretty clear that the time to hesitate is through.

 

At the risk of sounding [more] cliché, let me begin at the beginning. I was a pretty outgoing kid that would play with others and create wonderfully imagined playground stories and games. From the looks of it to anyone else, I was a normal child with a normal personality. Ambitious, but normal. In addition to playing outside and for hours on end with my friends, I also would have the ability to spend full days and nights in my room entirely alone, listening to music or the radio and playing with Legos or my wood train sets. It never really struck anyone as weird, not my parents and especially not me.

 

This naturally carried on through high school and college: I could spend hours with people or hours alone. Neither bothered me and being alone just became a regular part of work (sitting in booths alone for 12+ hours and not going crazy has always been a by-product of these jobs). I worked at least full time every week from the day I was issued a work permit at 15-years-old until last March when I took my new position at work that afforded me to spread my workload out across the entire span of the week instead of just working shift-by-shift. It’s been really great and I think both my family and the company are happy with the arrangements. However, it has afforded me more time with my thoughts.

 

This all seemed to be going relatively positively with my personality until, last July, I had just finished a long month of travel around the country and world, for that matter, my wife and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. The next day, we received the worst news our family has gotten to: our 25-year-old cousin Grant took his own life. Many emotions struck our family instantly. Much sadness and anger was followed by a lot of discussion with family and friends about mental health in our family and each other and in the country on the whole. My own anger and frustration at the situation couldn’t be resolved in the way I normally handle loss, where I recluse into my work and just avoid the emotion at all costs. On top of the obvious heartache, everyone began thinking that life doesn’t afford you the ability to not ask for help when you need it in any capacity, mental or physical or otherwise.

 

You know how our culture treats psychology? It’s seemingly like the rest of our social issues where we only live in extremes. Either over-acceptance of the psychological community’s narrative about clinical disorders (read: “medicate f*cking everything”) or complete and utter ignorance of the actual issues. I’m sure it is as it is with most things and the right answer is somewhere in the middle, but the irritation with society on this still persists with me. Regardless, medical counseling terrified me as I was completely under the impression that the first solution would be drugs. The side affects alone are reason enough to avoid them (especially since one of them is psychotic episodes). I carefully scheduled some sessions with a psychiatrist in my medical system only to be told to do breathing exercises and try not to worry about it. Whatever the hell that means. Helpful advice too…wish I wouldn’t thought of that myself…I still knew that I had to deal with my issues before they dealt with me, so reluctantly, I sought alternative options.

 

Between using our essential oils (a different post for a different time), I was finally, almost 9 months later, able to get sessions with a counselor through our church. Appropriately priced and convenient, as well as being able to give advice that falls closer to what I believe about the world, it was precisely what I needed to get back to being myself. I am also able to talk out loud about it to people, which was equally therapeutic as the counseling for me and those I talked to about it. It’s actually a little nice knowing other people are also struggling with the same demons that I am. Anxiety isn’t a rare quality in people: the executive, the public speaker, that girl from high school…it completely can and does affect all types from all backgrounds without exception. It doesn’t make the awkward emotion and anxiety disappear entirely, but it is completely helpful.

 

As it turns out, my years and years of being told that I “act out enough to perform,” I am a damned fine at projecting the little extroversion I have. Despite my realization of my introverted self that I’m learning more about every day, I still take pride in what I can do that are outgoing and yet still personal: I can public speak, I can give a mean tour, I can entertain groups of co-workers and crews that I work on, I can entertain guests at our house…I can slowly adjust to the “new normal” of the day-to-day. But somewhere, after all those events are over, after I’ve performed my outgoing personality for you; maybe you’ll see a man sitting peacefully in the corner of a little coffee shop in Anaheim Hills…just recuperating…quietly being his other self.

 

[kyle]

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